While it is perfectly normal to feel sore after a challenging (or new) workout, it is important to note that not all types of pain are byproducts of your body's natural healing process. A common place where this comes into play is an IT tape breach. What exactly is the IT band? Here you will find everything you need to know.
The IT band (also known as the Iliotibial Tract Band) is a thick piece of fascia or connective tissue that runs from the side of the hip to the side of the knee, says Bianca Spicer, sports physiologist and owner of Spicer Fitness and Wellness in Atlanta, Georgia. You can think of it as a rubber band because it works in your body in a similar way.
Whenever your leg moves forward or backward under your hips, such as during a step, elastic energy is stored and then released when the movement is reversed. Ultimately, according to research from Harvard University scientists, the IT tape helps your system save energy, especially during a run.
Given their main role in keeping you moving, maintaining healthy IT bands is very important. So you need to know when you're in pain after a hardcore sprint workout and need extra rest – or when you're actually injured.
Signs and symptoms of an IT tape violation
Because your IT tape is such a workhorse, the injury rate is higher than that of tissues or muscles that you don't use as often. This technical term for it is IT band syndrome and it is the second most common running injury, after examinations by the clinics for physical medicine and rehabilitation in North America. Symptoms of IT band syndrome include:
- Pain on the outside of your knee
- Pain when bending the knee
Common causes of IT band syndrome
Your glutes, hips and hamstrings run along your IT bands and work together to stabilize your knee. For this reason, the IT band can ignite after intensive lower body training, running, jumping training (a.k.a.plyometry) or even walking briskly.
In general, there are three common suspects that cause IT tape violations:
- sit too much
What to do if you think you have an IT tape violation?
If you're not sure if your pain is IT band syndrome, Spicer recommends getting a formal diagnosis from a physiotherapist. For mild pain, changes such as better shape, more rest and rehab exercises (e.g. strengthening your hips, buttocks and outside of your thighs) should be helpful.
A treatment that Spicer does not recommend? Foam rolls along your IT band. "You want to make sure that you foam foam the muscle," she says. "The biggest mistake we see when adjusting the IT band is people who think the IT band is (muscle)." Since it is tissue, it does not benefit from this type of tension release. Instead, stick to your quads, hammies, glutes, and inner thighs.
This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com
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